Cambridge website for Synthetic Biology resources

www.synbio.org.uk

Compiled by Jim Haseloff at the University of Cambridge. SpannerPlantLogo140This site contains details of recent papers and activity in Synthetic Biology, with particular emphasis on: (i) development of standards in biology and DNA parts, (ii) microbial and (iii) plant systems, (iv) research and teaching in the field at the University of Cambridge, (v) hardware for scientific computing and instrumentation, (vi) tools for scientific productivity and collected miscellany.

Similar to the Cambridge-based Raspberry Pi and OpenLabTools initiatives, we promote the use of low cost and open source tools - in our case for use in biological engineering.

Google: Synthetic Biology news

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14-Million-Year-Old Organisms?

By Mark Brown, Wired UK

After 20 years of drilling, a team of Russian researchers is close to breaching the prehistoric Lake Vostok, which has been trapped deep beneath Antarctica for the last 14 million years.

Vostok is the largest in a sub-glacial web of more than 200 lakes that are hidden 4 km beneath the ice. Some of the lakes formed when the continent was much warmer and still connected to Australia.

The lakes are rich in oxygen (making them oligotrophic), with levels of the element some 50 times higher than what would be found in your typical freshwater lake. The high gas concentration is thought to be because of the enormous weight and pressure of the continental ice cap.

If life exists in Vostok, it will have to be an extremophile — a life form that has adapted to survive in extreme environments. The organism would have to withstand high pressure, constant cold, low nutrient input, high oxygen concentration and an absence of sunlight.

The conditions in Lake Vostok are thought to be similar to the conditions on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus. In June, NASA probe Cassini found the best evidence yet for a massive saltwater reservoir beneath the icy surface of Enceladus. This all means that finding life in the inhospitable depths of Vostok would strengthen the case for life in the outer solar system.

Back on planet Earth, the team at Vostok are running short on time. Antarctica’s summer will soon end and the researchers need to leave their remote base while they still can. Temperatures will drop as low as -80C, grounding planes and trapping the team.

They missed their chance last year. “Time is short, however. It’s possible that the drillers won’t be able to reach the water before the end of the current Antarctic summer, and they’ll need to wait another year before the process can continue,” we wrote in January 2011. The drill halted in February.

Meanwhile, Russian engineers are planning to venture into the lake itself, with swimming robots. In the Antarctic summer of 2012 to 2013, they plan to send a robot into the lake to collect water samples and sediments from the bottom. An environmental assessment of the plan will be submitted at the Antarctic Treaty’s consultative meeting in May 2012.

Image: Wikipedia/NASA

Source: Wired.co.uk

Russian Drill Nears 14-Million-Year-Old Antarctic Lake

(Via Wired: Science.)

Research news at Cambridge University

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European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS)

EUSynBioSprelimLogo240The European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS) invites you to join its pre-launch community. The EUSynBioS initiative seeks to shape and foster a network of young researchers active the nascent scientific discipline of synthetic biology within the European Union by means of providing an integrative central resource for interaction and professional development.

Key objectives of EUSynBioS include i) the implementation of a central web platform for sharing news and opportunities relevant to members of the community as well as for academic networking, ii) the arrangement and support of events for academic exchange and professional development, iii) liaison with representatives of industry, and iv) establishment of a primary contact for collaboration and exchange with related communities of synthetic biology students and postdocs abroad.

Registering as a member is free and can be completed within 30 seconds via the following link http://www.eusynbios.org/students-and-postdocs/join Students and postdocs who register as a EUSynBioS member will be able to:
o Access a large network of young researchers in synthetic biology for academic collaboration and exchange
o Share technical resources and teaching materials
o Stay informed about relevant events such as conferences, workshops, or social outings o Browse relevant jobs in academia and industry
o Use site visits and mentoring opportunities to interact with prospective employers
o Connect with members of related communities all over the world

By registering as a member prior to the official launch of EUSynBioS, you will not only make a statement of support which will have an impact on the resources available to the community in the future; you will also be given the chance to actively shape EUSynBioS right from the start, and have an edge when applying for a position on the Steering Committee. We are looking forward to your joining us ! Christian Boehm, University of Cambridge.